Regardless of your religious or non-religious belief, the one thing Christmas brings out of people is more proactive sense of kindness. We seem to be nicer to each other around this time of year more than any other, short of natural disasters. Many beliefs contain elements of some sort of benevolent sense of brotherhood to each other.
Christianity contains the elements of kindness to widows and strangers. Islam has its duty to give to zakat for money for the poor. And Hinduism has its goal of reaching ones with Brahma by doing good acts to others, and so on.
It’s a great thing to see people actively trying to be nicer to each other, so I wondered what is it that keeps us from doing this more often? Why must there be some sort of event to just be kind?
What stoked this thought was the recent uproar surrounding the suspension of one of Duck Dynasty of its main star’s suspension, Phil Robertson. He had made comments regarding his belief about gay relationships and race,
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he tells reporter Drew Magary. “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Since then, the idea of brotherhood of men seems to have taken a back seat to insults, from claims of religious persecution and freedom of speech, to needing to change peoples’ minds to accept the ‘logic’ of gay relationships, to catcalling and stereotyping each other based on conservative or liberal politics. And all of this happens ironically around Christmas.
From the first time we started coming together in communities, humans have felt the need to declare boundaries, defining who’s in and whose out. Whether it’s rooted in race, nation, sports teams, or even families, we continue to exhibit a clan-loyalty mentality. How we treat outsiders, whether in kindness, prejudice, good acts or bad, flows along those lines.
This is the root of what causes us to seemingly only be able to manage one month where we can extend those grace and niceties normally reserved for those within our groups outside our circles. When we ask ourselves how people can do harmful things to each other or commit extreme acts like suicide, it is an extension of our sense of exclusive loyalties.
Are these justified? Are they right or wrong? It doesn't really matter in this context because the solid facts are that these largely contribute to our constant conflicts we seem to have. We are too much our brother’s keeper.
Regardless of our differences, if we want to continue behaving in goodness of faith to all people, perhaps we need to extend our definition of ‘brother’. If we were able to call the person next to us, next to you, brother or sister, based on the fact that both are human beings, that could go a long way towards continuing the Christmas spirit year round. It would be a splendid thing for us to be giving, compassionate, and understanding with each other without some crisis or external call for it.
If we all are our brothers’ keeper, then perhaps one day everyday would be like Christmas.